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Pouncey plans to play in Super Bowl despite ankle sprain

Steelers rookie center Maurkice Pouncey plans to play in Super Bowl XLV despite suffering a high ankle sprain during Sunday's AFC Championship Game victory over the New York Jets, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Monday.

"I know in my heart that I'm playing in that game," Pouncey told the newspaper Sunday. "I had the same injury before on my other ankle, and I know how to attack it. I know how to approach things."

Pouncey had to be helped off the field during the first quarter Sunday after Jets linebacker Bryan Thomas was pushed back into the rookie center. Thomas rolled over the back of Pouncey's leg on a 7-yard pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to Hines Ward.

Pouncey didn't put weight on the ankle as he hopped off the field with the aid of two trainers. He later was carted to the locker room, where CBS cameras showed Pouncey walking with the aid of crutches.

Pouncey told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he knew he wouldn't return to the game after the injury.

"It was the worst pain ever," he said, adding that he suffered a similar injury as a sophomore at the University of Florida but returned to play the next game.

Pouncey is unlikely to practice until the team arrives in Dallas, according to the Tribune-Review.

If the Steelers are forced to play without Pouncey, who was replaced by Doug Legursky, it would be the latest blow to a patchwork offensive line. Jonathan Scott has started at left tackle since mid-November in place of regular starter Max Starks, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Right guard Willie Colon, the team's starter since 2007, was placed on IR before the season began, and second-year pro Ramon Foster and veteran Trai Essex have combined to fill in for him.

Through it all, the Steelers allowed 32 sacks on quarterback Roethlisberger during the regular season.

"They don't blink," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said about his offensive linemen. "The standard is winning. It's not always as attractive as we would like, talking about the effort, but it is effort nonetheless. Today's effort was kind of a window to what it has been."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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